Illinois Conservation Police Officer Chris Johnson named Officer of the Year

Chris Young
Illinois Conservation Police Officer Chris Johnson named Officer of the Year

SPRINGFIELD, IL - Illinois Conservation Police Officer Chris Johnson of Golconda was honored as the Officer of the Year during a recent ceremony at the Illinois Department of Natural Resources headquarters in Springfield. Johnson, an 11-year veteran of the Conservation Police, was honored for his commitment to all aspects of conservation law enforcement. Johnson's record for 2013 includes felony drug arrests, three OUI arrests, ginseng harvest arrests and 102 arrests involving wildlife violations. He also coaches high school baseball and conducts a hunt for underprivileged youth.

IDNR Director Marc Miller and IDNR Chief of Law Enforcement Rafael Gutierrez presented awards to officers and community members who assisted law enforcement during 2013. Illinois Conservation Police Officers Phil Wire, Jed Whitchurch, Trent Reeves and Michael Goetten also were nominated for Officer of the Year.

"Our Conservation Police Officers are among the most highly trained law enforcement officers in Illinois,' Gutierrez said. 'Over and over again they demonstrate their commitment to protecting public safety and upholding Illinois conservation laws. It is an honor to work with such dedicated officers."

Awards of Valor were presented to Steven Vasicek, Mike Blazinic and Steve Francisko. Vasicek for honored for his role in thwarting an armed burglary of a residence; Blazinic for arresting five fleeing motorcycle gang members; and Francisko was recognized for his role in pulling an Illinois State Police Trooper to safety who was pinned against his squad car by the driver of a car stopped for a traffic check.

Vasicek also was honored as Mississippi Flyway Council Waterfowl Officer of the Year. Johnson was recognized as the Officer of the Year by the Association of Midwest Fish and Game Law Enforcement Officers.

List of awards presented:
Officer's county in parenthesis

Officer of the Year: Chris Johnson (Pope)
Also nominated: Phil Wire (LaSalle), Jed Whitchurch (Cook), Trent Reeves (Champaign) and Michael Goetten (Jersey)

Awards of Valor: Steven Vasicek (Union), Mike Blazinic (Adams), Steve Francisko (Rock Island)

Awards of Merit: Sgt. Mark Simon (Grundy), Matt Anderson (Grundy), Bill Bergland (Kendall), Tony Petreikis, Steve Francisko (Rock Island), Shane Teas (Ogle), Dave Holland (Marion) and Troy Williams (White)

Certificates of Appreciation: Dale Chandler (Black Hawk State Historic Site), Grundy County State's Attorney Jason Helland, Assistant State's Attorney Kyle Klukas and former Sangamon County Assistant State's Attorney Travis Strobach, Cook County Assistant State's Attorney Peter Goutos, Joliet City Police Officer Greg Humphrey, Kankakee County State's Attorney Jamie Boyd and Assistant State's Attorneys Ed Pentuic, Val Gunderson, Kara Macz and Kelly Tebow, Tom Huffington, California Department of Fish and Wildlife Warden Ryan Thiem and Warden Jerrad Swaney, Macoupin County State's Attorney Jennifer Watson, Rescue divers Christopher Miller, Andrew Miller and Jamie Jones, Jefferson County Sheriff's Detective Scotty Smith, Black Diamond Harley Davidson and Aviation, Union County Deputy Sheriff Robert McGee and Jonesboro City Police Officer Kyle McDaniel

Certificates of Merit: Eric Mieure (Will), John Williamson (DeWitt), Heath Tepovich (Lake), Brandon Fehrenbacher (Lake), Marc Folden (Hamilton), Chief Travis Allen of the Ina Police Department and Jason Kuhlman or the IDNR Division of Systems and Licensing

Other Awards:
Officer of the Year/Illinois: Association of Midwest Fish and Game Law Enforcement Officers: Chris Johnson (Pope)

Mississippi Flyway Council Waterfowl Officer of the Year: Steven Vasicek (Union)

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